It was reported back in September that around 50,000 people may get notices from their healthcare providers that their plans would be canceled and require updating. This is of course due to the fact that the plans didn’t meet the minimum requirements laid out in the Affordable Care Act. A new 50,000 person statistic, though, has come to light: 50,000 lives saved.
Obamacare Saves Lives
In the world of healthcare, there is a term known as “never events.” This term signifies medical errors that result in the injury or death of a patient. These types of mistakes are never supposed to happen in a healthcare setting, so the term “never events” seems to suit them quite well.
A recent report that looked into these types of errors found that there has been a 17 percent decline in their occurrence between 2010 and 2013. Health care quality experts were consulted to help understand these statistics, and what they found was astonishing.
This 17 percent decline, which may not seem like much to some, resulted in $12 billion in health care cost savings. The more important finding, however, is that this reduction also accounts for around 50,000 fewer deaths of patients who may have otherwise fallen victim to a medical error. In what will sure become a bane in the existence of Affordable Care Act detractors, one of the factors driving this reduction is good old Obamacare.
How The Affordable Care Act Is Saving Lives
Obamacare is undoubtedly providing more Americans with health insurance, and having a healthcare policy mean that a person can get the treatment they need if they’re ever injured or fall victim to a serious illness. As of July 2014, in fact, 20 million people had finally gained health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
On top of those who are insured, though, the ACA has also implemented new rules which incentivize hospitals who make fewer mistakes. In years past, it’s been reported that hospitals could make more money off of mistakes than they could by getting it right the first time around. After all, a patient coming back for further care just adds more money to the bank rolls.
Thanks to the healthcare law, however, this time is now gone. Private insurers and Medicare can now reduce or even withhold payments from medical institutions who are making errors. Additionally, Medicare has begun fining hospitals whose quick readmission rates are too high. So if a hospital has high numbers of people returning within a month of being discharged, they could see serious fines.
All of this isn’t to say that Obamacare saved 50,000 lives on its own. The administration, for instance, has also been working to improve overall healthcare by spreading safety information to hospitals around the country. Similarly, medical errors making it into the news more frequently is also a contributing factor.
But in reality, one cannot simply ignore the fact that 50,000 people who would be dead today due to hospital errors are still alive thanks to a combination of Obamacare and other initiatives. And just think: this statistic is related to only lives saved by preventing medical errors.
Now consider people whose lives have been saved thanks to finally having access to preventative care. Imagine all of the people who could finally afford lifesaving surgery thanks to not being denied insurance based on a pre-existing condition. Better yet, imagine the Harvard study that showed Medicaid expansion saved thousands of lives. Now tack on these extra 50,000 lives saved.
I never was any good at math, but that seems like a lot of lives saved. Remember those 50,000 cancellations we mentioned at the beginning of this article? It seems as if 50,000 people having to update their insurance plan to meet minimum requirements is well worth 50,000 people still breathing today. Just a thought.
Here is the full report.